Alexandra CHRISTODIMOU and Yannis PETRIDIS
Alexandra & Yannis Play Music for Two Guitars. Works by Gershwin, Rodrigo, Giorginakis, Piazzolla and J.S. Bach.
2016 MOTIVO Records YP 1981, 2016.
Alexandra Christodimou and Yannis Petridis, a husband-and-wife duo, studied with the famous Greek guitar duo Evangelos & Liza, as well as in England with Gordon Crosskey and at Stony Brook University with Jerry Willard. Today they live and teach in Greece.
The keystone piece for this recording is the duo’s transcription of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, a piece which has, over the years, been arranged by many guitarists in several formats: solos (Jorge Morel), quartets (VIDA Guitar Quartet), as well as two guitars and orchestra (Tim Berens).
The music heard here excellently preserves not only the notes and harmonies, but also the feel of each section. String tremolo is effectively rendered by rapid, fleshy strumming, and there are tasteful rasgueado sections which are musically appropriate, avoiding a “Spanish” connotation which would distract the listener from the intended American jazz style of the music. Some emphasis is attempted by string-slaps, but his reviewer might have opted for different percussive effects.
Because of the stratospherically high bar set by the Assad brothers, guitar duos are unavoidably facing a monumental challenge when recording Piazzolla’s Tango Suite and Rodrigo’s Tonadilla. This duo is clearly up to the task, with sparkling scales and seemingly no technical limitations. Their interpretations are musically sound, and offer a somewhat different view of this music, often a more tempered, gentler feel for some sections than the robust Assad versions. It is enriching to hear this great music coming from a fresh perspective, interpreted by mature artists with a long history of shared personal and musical experience.
Consistent with their live concerts, the duo includes one of their native country’s composers, Kiriakos Giorginakis, with the lovely three-movement Greek Memories. This is music deserving to be heard on stages the world around. The fast pieces could have occasionally benefitted from restraining the exuberant accompaniment to allow the melodic passages to have more presence, but their overall effect is quite satisfying.
The CD concludes with the duo's transcription of J.S. Bach’s Italian Concerto, played with verve and spirit which points to the fact that, like the rest of this recording, we are hearing music of the highest level from two excellent musicians making the most of a lifetime of playing together.
Jim McCutcheon, Soundboard Guitar Magazine, Vol. 44 No.1, January 2018